There are many advantages to joining an early stage startup as the first step in your career; within a few years you can gain what feels like a decade of experience, giving you a wealth of skills needed for rapid career growth.
However, it can be challenging to get a startup job with no experience. Many startups are looking for candidates with a strong skill set and a proven track record, who can hit the ground running.
However, there are steps you can take to increase your chances of landing a startup job, even if you don't have any experience. Here are some tips to help you get started:
Start by building up your skills and knowledge in a specific area relevant to the type of role you want to take on and the industry you want to get into. You'll need to show the hiring manager you can add value to the startup from day one, and not rely on the business and team to teach you everything you'll need to know. This doesn't need to be through traditional education; you could take online courses, read books, watch youtube videos, seek out mentors and gain real world experience through internships as we'll discuss later.
Networking is a key part of finding a job in any industry, and it's especially important in the startup world. Connect with others in the role and industry you want to get into through social media - particularly on LinkedIn. Events and meetups are also popular in the startup world and you'll be surprised how quickly you can build your own professional network. Seeking out mentors or advisors is also a great way to find new job opportunities as most people in the startup world are usually happy to help.
In today's digital age, it's important to have a strong online presence. If you're applying to a tech startup, expect the hiring manager to Google you. Having a professional active social media presence, a website or portfolio they can easily find is a great way to make sure their search is brief and helps you stand out against other candidates.
One way to gain experience and build your resume is to volunteer or intern at a startup. This can be a great way to learn about the industry and gain practical experience, and it can also help you make valuable connections. We've seen plenty of examples of someone interning with a startup, only to the be taken on full time and progress rapidly to senior leadership within just a few years!
Don't wait for the perfect opportunity to come along – create your own. If you see a startup you want to join and you think you could add value to the business, reach out to a Co-Founder and offer your services on a freelance or voluntary basis. Alternatively, if you have a great idea for a startup, consider starting your own. Even if it doesn't take off, the experience you gain will be valuable and can help you stand out to potential employers.
Startups are known for their fast-paced and dynamic working environments, so be prepared to be flexible and adaptable. This may involve taking on tasks outside of your job description or working longer hours when necessary. Showing a willingness to roll up your sleeves and do whatever it takes to get the job done can make you an attractive candidate to potential employers.
Startups are looking for candidates who are passionate about their work and the industry. If you have no experience, enthusiasm is often all you have to carry you through so make sure you have plenty of it.
Finding a job in a startup can be competitive and you can't expect hiring managers and co-founders to get back to your first contact. Make sure to build your own outreach cadence, reaching out to your key contact at each company over multiple channels, once every few days, to really stand out.
If you're having trouble finding a job at a specific startup, consider expanding your search to include other types of roles. For example, you might consider working at a larger company in the same industry, or you might consider a freelancing or voluntary role. This can help you gain valuable experience and build your CV, which can make you a more competitive candidate for future startup jobs.
Finally, never stop learning and growing. The startup world is constantly changing, and it's important to stay up-to-date on the latest trends and technologies. This will not only help you land a startup job, but it will also help you build a successful career in the startup world.
By following these tips, you can increase your chances of finding a startup job and launching a successful career. It may take time and persistence, but the effort will be worth it in the end. Remember to focus on building your skills, networking, and creating a strong online presence, and don't be afraid to be proactive and take risks. With the right attitude and approach, you can land the startup job of your dreams, even if you don't have any experience to begin with.